The Tiger Tanaka Show

You Only Live Twice, the fifth “official” James Bond film, generates mixed reaction among 007 fans. It was the first Bond “official” 007 film to completely dump an Ian Fleming plot. Still, it has its moments and actor Tetsuro Tamba, who played Tiger Tanaka, head of Japan’s Secret Service (aided by Robert Rietty doing the voiceover work), provided some of the highlights.

Well, one of our friends, James McMahon, pointed us to Key Hunter, a Japanese TV series that featured Tamba as the leader of a team of spies. It was produced around the time of You Only Live Twice. It also evokes (based on the main titles) the U.S. television series Mission: Impossible. And, another friend, chimed in that visually, Key Hunter is similar to the original Hawaii Five-O series, featuring freeze-frame shots of the leads of the series.

We’ll let you be the judge:

UPDATE: Here’s a YouTube video with some stills from the 1964 movie The 7th Dawn, directed by Lewis Gilbert, photographed by Freddie Young and with main titles by Maurice Binder, who’d perform the same tasks on You Only Live Twice. Tamba was in that movie also.

One Response

  1. I think it was more like ‘The Tiger Tanaka Network’. It appears like a generation of Japanese television watchers grew up with Tanba on their screens. It appears over the years after YOLT, Tanba was a very busy actor. Apparently Key Hunter was followed by Operation Eyeful or more correctly Eyeful Daisakusen, which was the first of two follow ups to the series to Keyhunter. The other sequel was Birdie Daisakusen.

    Next was the G-Men ’75 series. Someone reported that the “G-Men” title is probably in reference to the American series “The Untouchables” and did not indicate that these detectives were part of any broad National Japanese strikeforce. The ’75 referenced the year in which the show debuted. In keeping with the “Untouchables” influence, great character actor Tamba Tetsuro wore a fedora hat and trench coat like Robert Stack’s Eliot Ness character (although Tamba sported a similar look in the Keyhunter, Eyeful and Birdie series as well).

    There was also a series called G-Men ’82 – but I am not sure if Tanba was in that.

    I’d love to see some of these Japanese detective series with subtitles.

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